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September 9, 2019
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Why I have created Realko24. An interview with Konrad Okła, part 1

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Realko24 is something that has never been on the commercial real estate market before. The platform connecting landlords with tenants is a relatively simple solution, which, however, nobody has ever dared to introduce. The market was in a way concreted. Real estate agents could feel warm and cosy. Konrad Okła decided to break the safe status quo. Why he created Realko24 and what are the ins and outs of the commercial real estate market – you will learn from this two-part conversation.

Booking has governed the hotel market for over 20 years. In 2007, Airbnb, a brilliant short-term apartment rental platform, was launched. However, a similar solution has never been created on the commercial real estate market – to facilitate the rental of offices, warehouses and commercial spaces. Why?

Let’s start with the fact that I have created Realko24 not because there is Booking or Airbnb and I wanted to do something similar, but because I was a commercial real estate agent myself and saw how much energy and money was wasted on this market for things that could be successfully done by technology. I saw how many lies there were. Today, I compare myself to Booking or Airbnb mainly because it creates an easy reference point.

What do you mean?

If you wanted to go to Greece for holidays 30 years ago, you went to a travel agency, where you took a brochure catalog out of the drawer, watched the pages and heard that you had a pool here, a couple of tennis courts there, and an extra trip by boat in another place. Then, you had to choose something. Today, you do not have to go to a travel agency. You just sit on the couch with a laptop, read offers and opinions, make decisions and buy everything online. In the evening, at supper, you can arrange a vacation.

The question arises, why can’t one rent a warehouse in Russia in the same way?

The hotel and residential market is very fragmented when it comes to agents. However, when it comes to commercial real estate brokers – there is practically no such fragmentation. There is a small group of global companies that have been keeping this market in their grip for over 100 years. They do not care about the customer’s need for a cheaper and simpler rental process. Answering the question: until now, you could not remotely rent a warehouse in Russia, an office in Los Angeles or a boutique space on the island of Rhodes, because the brokerage environment did not care about creating the right technology. Brokers make too much money in this segment to push for changes that will simplify certain processes and reduce their earnings.

Why did you, a broker, decide to change something?

Because I liked working on the commercial real estate market and during meetings with clients I always wanted to be an added value. After I selected the building in which the people gathered to negotiate contracts, fit-outs and architectural design, I felt redundant. This showed me that the agent’s participation in the transaction can and should be significantly reduced. Let’s add that today brokers go everywhere with you. They show you around the buildings in the whole city, although in most cases it makes no sense. On the basis of the technology they have available, they should give you about three offers, from which you choose the best one. They should not make you confused by presenting 20 or 30 proposals.

80 percent of these offers do not match the tenant for various reasons.

That is right. That is why I have created Realko24 – in order to not to walk with people from building to building, not to tire myself and them. I came up with it to be aware that when I operate on the commercial real estate market, I do not fool anyone. I give added value to the extent it is needed and take less money for it. Another thing is that the biggest players in this market are getting smaller earnings. Competition is increasing, and landlords are paying attention to whether they will pay the agent a salary of one rent or seven rents. Everything goes in this direction: process optimization, cost cutting and full transparency. These are exactly the rules that Realko24 follows.

How do landlords pereceive Realko24?

Everyone sees the pros in it and think that it is a good direction for brokerage – because why not, since it allows you to reduce a lot of costs. The whole “PropTech revolution” that is currently happening helps us to reach wider, also foreign markets. We started to create Realko24 even before the revolution began and we know that the market likes added value. That is exactly what we offer to tenants and landlords.